"Baer said there's no way to confront the Sunni insurgency and the Shiite militias without “a surge of 500,000 troops.” In his estimation, it's also too late to prevent Iran from consolidating its position in Iraq. He pointed out that Iranian currency is already widely circulated in the southern city of Basra and that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are deeply embedded in the country. “Iraq is turning to Iran, and there's nothing we can do about that short of invading Iran or fully occupying Iraq, shutting its borders, and launching the equivalent of the Marshall Plan.”"* ken:
"U.S. forces, said my source, twice had the opportunity to kill Sadr, first in 2003 after his supporters killed Abdul Majid al-Khoei, a British-based Shiite Muslim leader who had returned to Iraq to work with Coalition forces, and again in 2004. “His mother dimed him out that time. He was in Najaf, and we couldn't pin down his location. She went to a member of the family who told us where he was. You know the guy is bad news when his own mother wants him dead.”"calling babs.
The quote from Rozen that jumped out at me was: "The administration believes that the Saudis had an epiphany, that Iran is the lens through which they now view all their security concerns," says Patrick Clawson, an Iran expert and the deputy director of research at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "And that means the Saudis may be prepared to do a variety of things which previously they were not prepared to do."Clawson & WINEP are indeed freaks. Regarding the decision to remove troops from Saudi Arabia, that was a very weird situation indeed - one of the weirder of the entire past 5 years. IIRC, it was kinda hushed up in the media, and nobody seemed to make note of the fact that troops in Saudi Arabia was one of OBL's chief gripes...
I'm increasingly inclined to wonder about just how much of our Middle East policy has been driven by the Saudis, with Israel and the Neocons at best a distant second. For example, I just this morning ran into a reference to Paul Wolfowitz having said in a May 2003 interview in Vanity Fair that the ability to remove US forces from Saudi Arabia was one of the major payoffs of the invasion of Iraq.
That this quote would come from Patrick Clawson of WINEP is another interesting factor. WINEP is, if I have the relationship right, the think-tank arm of AIPAC. And Clawson is known as a supporter of the Iranian terrorist cult, MEK. So when he starts suggesting that what is in play here -- as the following paragraphs in Laura Rozen's article make clear -- is an emerging anti-Iranian alliance involving both Israelis and Saudis, that has to be taken very seriously. It seems as though all the parties involved are lining up in a common direction, and that can't be a good thing.